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COUNTRY LIFE IN BC • FEBRUARY 2019


Grazing, forage and water top


list at town hall Cattlemen lament lack of a rural voice in Victoria


by TOM WALKER


VERNON – A town hall meeting at the North Okanagan Livestock Association’s education day January 16 saw BC Cattlemen’s Association executive and staff present on current industry issues. It emphasized the need for feedback from members. “We want to hear issues


directly from ranchers, not on the CBC or on Facebook,” quipped BCCA president Larry Garrett. Werner Stump, head of the land stewardship committee, outlined issues the committee will raise as part of the Forest and Range Practices Act review. “When FRPA was coming together years ago, we had a big push on to include forage as one of the objectives that needed to be considered by timber tenure holders,” explains Stump. “We weren’t successful at doing that and we’ve been fighting that battle ever since, trying to get more respect on the land for forage.”


A stable forage supply is


the lifeblood of the industry, says Stump, just like timber is for the forest sector. “They need a stable supply


in order to justify capital expenditures on mills and


processing,” says Stump “We are no different; we need that consistency for our forage. … We need to know what we have this coming year and what our kids have coming 20 years from now.” Stump says BC Cattlemen’s sees the current FRPA review as “a once in a decade” chance to rejig the existing system. “BC Cattlemen see this as an opportunity to influence that review so that the values that are important to the ranching industry are better reflected,” he says. There are already signs of


progress from ongoing discussions with the ministers of agriculture, forests and environment and their staff. “We understand there is going to be a different process for improved stakeholder involvement for us as range tenure holders,” he says. “We look forward to that change.” The committee is also pleased to see some proposed changes in the authority of forest district managers. “We have been canvasing


for some time to allow the district manager to make the final decision and say, ‘Is this cutting permit in the best interest of all of the stakeholders?’” says Stump. “We hope the DM will be able to recognize the range of values that forage brings to


27


Okanagan Fertilizer’s Ken Clancy, left, and Mike Witt of Witt Precision Ag were welcomed to the North Okanagan Livestock Association’s annual educatIon day by NOLA president Lani French. TOM WALKER PHOTO


many other resources such as wildlife habitat and rural stability, as well as acknowledging the role of forage in First Nations culture.” Stump’s committee also made several submissions to the Agriculture Land Commission regarding forage production on ALR deeded land.


“Seventy percent of the ALR in BC supports livestock, and most of that livestock is beef,” he says. “It is also very important that beef have access to Crown forage so they are all related.” Stump says forage and grazing strategies can also


help protect communities from wildfire, something proposed as part of a pilot program in the Cariboo.


Water rights


John Anderson covered water issues on behalf of committee chair Linda Allison. Ranchers were reminded one last time to get their groundwater applications in to guarantee their current rights.


The cattle industry seems to be losing ground in the upcoming livestock watering regulations, which have yet to be written after four years. “Somewhere along the line,


what we thought we were getting has changed with the government,” says Anderson. “We had always asked for direct access to water for BC livestock as we have traditionally had.” This is now being called into question. “It is very concerning to us,”


says Anderson. “It appears that the government have changed their direction based on 100 comments submitted by the public out of our total population of four million in the province.”


Anderson alleged that many See LACK on next page o


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